the guardian in the temple gate

Figs, cracked open. 'You'd better eat them soon. They're very ripe. Free. Osettai. Gift to a pilgrim.' I thank her. She waited for me to finish my drawing before giving me her gift.

It's hot. I walk through back roads and paddies. The rice heads bend down. Old stone markers with a fist and pointer finger show the way.

Dragon flies skim the fields. I stop to eat my figs near a cemetary below a tree. There is no movement in the air. The tree is silent. People are picking vegetables in the fields. Cars are moving on the distant highway. The gravestones are leaning and fallen, pushed around by vegetation. In front of some there are bamboo tubes with dead flowers. It's not a sad place. Someone tends it. Keeps the grass from swallowing everything.

At the shrine worshippers ring the bell and clap twice.
I find 2000 Yen in the forest.
There are 7 kinds of mushroom in the path.


Copyright Edwina Breitzke May 1997